Sunday, December 11, 2005

A little curio for you. I contribute to the Dandy Annual 2006. Scripting the Dreadlock Holmes story, where dear old Dreadlock loses his magnifying glass down the side of his sofa. My involvement with the character began with the relaunch of the Dandy, which is the oldest comic in the world, certainly that’s still in print nowadays. All in all I wrote 10 scripts for the character, who garnered much publicity on the back of being the comic’s first-ever African Caribbean character. A schoolboy detective constantly making the wrong assumptions having to be pulled out of the hot water by his wise beyond her years younger sister. The blurb would sometimes mention a father being involved although he never appeared in any of my strips. Nine of these scripts were used for the first story arc of the character. I never wrote the Xmas story.

I’d met the editor Morris Heggie earlier that year. He was aware of my DC/Cartoon Network stuff and wanted fresh blood on board. For my part years before I’d worked for DC Thomsons as a student in the summer packing Xmas annuals. And of course DC Thomsons is a venerable Scottish institution. I liked the idea of working for them, submitted a spec script and that as they say was that. Of course with DC Thomsons I knew what to expect. There are no creator credits. Check. Scripts are heavily subbed. Check. Very low page rate. Check. Even so once the strips started being published I was reading words and sentences that weren’t my own at a distressingly high rate. The meaning seemed to be ripped from some of the panels, don’t ask me what they were now about. I thought I was prepared for it, but once in the flesh of print, it was a little demoralising. That’s not to say I didn’t take a lot from the experience. My take on the character was well received, Steve White did a great job on the art, and the Halloween story (which was largely left untouched) was anarchic to the point of gleeful delight. But I decided that it wasn’t for me, did my 10 scripts then left it at that. No regrets, no recriminations, just one of those things.

As for the annual itself (thanks to Scott for sending me a copy) it’s all rather good fun. Highlights are Steve Bright’s hypnotically grotesque art. A rather bizarre Beryl the Peril strip. There’s some pretty good stuff in there from Graham Manley. And there are these one-pagers dotted throughout taking their inspiration from EC comics. Zombies shamble towards the Reader saying, "We want chips!" And one cannot help but delight in and marvel at the Bottom Vampire taking a bite out of a young lady’s arse. Ah, the sheer devilish madcap British humour of it all.

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